Category Archives: healthcare

An Open Letter to Senator John Kerry

In 1984, I took part in my first political campaign, and voted in my first election. I stood holding a “Kerry for Senate” banner on the side of the pond in the center of the UMass Campus, and I stood with John Kerry in his run.

Twenty years later, I took part in my first Presidential Caucus, in WA state. Although pregnant, I got up on a bench and gave an impassioned speech about the Democratic Party and supporting John Kerry in particular. In the face of Deaniac Washington, our town went Kerry, as eventually did our state. I was asked to take a place in the stands behind him (big, blue and pregnant made for good optics for a pro-choice candidate forbidden to receive communion by the bishops of his own faith), met him, thanked him for running and campaigned until the end.

I am profoundly disappointed in the Senator today. The only way that the mandatory contraceptive coverage component of the Affordable Health Care Act is about religious freedom is about the freedom of the EMPLOYEES, not the employer. It is about basic health care for women, and having to provide it EVEN IF the religious beliefs of the employer include the notion that women were from the beginning, made wholly from the rib of a man and unequal to him.

Catholic Charities would like us to think that their mission is about service, but really, when it comes to the status of women in their world, it is about SUBSERVICE. But Bishops are not the rulers of our land. They do not make the laws, even though the rate at which they break them, against the most vulnerable amongst us is despicable.

Women do not deserve second class status if they work for a Catholic institution such as a university or hospital, because the LAW, which governs us all says that Women and Men are due equal protection under LAW.

Put another way. If AIDS drugs are covered by ACHA, would you then say that covering men with HIV would be at the discretion of the Catholic Church because they condemn homosexual activity? If blood transfusions are covered, would it then be at the discretion of a Jehovah’s Witnesses based charity to disregard those? What about the Christian Science Monitor? Can they forget about prescription drug coverage in its entirety?

If you cannot find the words that express the supremacy of the rights of equal protection over any individual religion’s dictates, take mine. This is about HEALTH CARE, and the right of anyone who works for any employer to not have their employer’s religious whims, caprices or beliefs infringe on what is their legal right to receive.

Women will never get the chance to vote for Catholic bishops – hell, they can’t even have give a homily! – but they will vote for Congresspeople and President. And they will vote the same way they obey the edicts of the pope when it comes to birth control. Ignoring them when it makes no sense, with the full support of the law.

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Filed under health, healthcare, institutional misogyny, Uncategorized, women, women's health, women's rights

a night at the ER, an hour under the needles

Where can a woman go for a night of therapeutic self-care apart from the demands of the household and career? What if she also has a taste for gadgets and geeking out? Well, provided she has health insurance and a legitimate health issue, and she lives in my neighborhood, she can go to the emergency room and have a leisurely 6 hours, complete with well apportioned lounges and LEC(doh! too much christmas light hangover)D video screens. And when big pharma gets her down, she’s only an hour away from relief.

That’s how I spent Thursday night, from about 8pm to 2am. Earlier that day, I had developed pain in my chest from that pesky breathing activity. Given that I’d had pneumonia before, I figured a quick call to the after hours nurse would get me in queue for a MD visit. However, the nurse had other instructions: get thee to a radiologist and get a chest X-Ray. Stat.

It ended up being a relatively stressless time. I chatted with other patients, getting a sense of the world again, and watching TV programs that made me feel more like a cultural anthropologist than a Nielsen viewer. (The murder mysteries were the most engaging, except for the fact that the victims, without fail, were always young women in peril.)

I got my own room in time for the 11o’clock news – it still exists – and had my x-ray before Dave started. The chest x-ray was really beautiful – for the shape and form hinted in shadows and lines, the clarity of my lungs (no pneumonia for you medical detectives), and the perfect fit of my heart into where my hand rests at night, across my breastbone. I have a copy of the picture on DVD, but the software is not as high-tech as one might like. Windows only.

My MD was professional, friendly, and a fan of both early, daytime Dave and Flight of the Conchords. (He quoted lyrics from “the most beautiful girl in the room” when I mentioned them.) He diagnosed my condition as viral bronchitis, and said the most important thing was to get the lungs and muscles to stop spasming. The inhaler they gave me was foul – albuterol seems somehow related to vomit – but I managed to relax into breathing with the spacer. Some mild hand jitters followed, but not enough to make a difference in driving.

At the all-night pharmacy, I was struck by the sensation of being a single woman again – driving alone after midnight on empty streets, walking through the aisles of shampoo and styling products, letting the pressing concerns of my day and future ebb into ingredient lists, until it was time to pick up the back-up medications. The overhead fluorescents came home with me, keeping me awake until about 4am. Which was when my husband woke, and my son cried in his sleep. Not so much 1997 as 2008, all of those people and experiences in the same set of pajamas.

Later that day, I went to my acupuncturist and told her about my nocturnal adventure. Fifteen needles and 30 minutes later, I was breathing with no pain, and the phlegm was finding its way out. (No pics.) It is also a single person experience, but more like slipping into a phone booth, and slipping out. No one sees what’s happening, but I come out a little warmer, a little more vibrant. And not suffering.

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Filed under acupuncture, care, David Letterman, Emergency room, Flight of the Conchords, healthcare, night out, nighttime, nighttime adventure, treating bronchitis, xrays